DID you know watermelon’s official name is citrullus lanatus?
It is indigenous to Africa and belongs to the curcurbitaceae botanical family which includes its cousins cucumbers, pumpkins and squash.
The fruit is properly named too because it is made up of 92% water. The first recorded watermelon harvest was in Egypt nearly 5 000 years ago.
Watermelon seeds were even found in the tomb of King Tut. From Africa they spread to the Mediterranean, then India and finally to China in the 10th centuries. China is now the world’s largest watermelon producer. European slave traders brought watermelon to the Americas in the 1600s.
Before the 1600s, they were called citruls or pasteques.
There are over 1 200 watermelon varieties, ranging from about 450g to the 900kg giant
The average watermelon has red-pink flesh but some varieties have orange, white or yellow flesh.
Seedless watermelons still have seeds but they are small, white and edible.
Out of 52 US states, 44 grow watermelons.
In spite of being 92% water, watermelons do contain some important nutrients.
They are a good source of vitamins A and C, and also contain lycopene, a compound which could have anti-cancer properties.
There are a number of other nutrients in the rind, if you’re interested in eating it. The Chinese pickle, stir-fried and stew the rind. The Chinese also roast the seeds.
Watermelon juice can be made into wine.